HL Deb 01 August 1961 vol 234 cc85-7

After Clause 33, insert the following new clause—

Accumulations of rubbish

("(1) If it appears to a local authority that there is on any vacant site in a built-up area an accumulation of rubbish which is seriously detrimental to the amenities of the neighbourhood, the local authority may, subject to the provisions of this section, take such steps for removing the rubbish as they may consider necessary in the interests of amenity.

(2) Not less than twenty-eight days before taking any action under this section, the local authority shall serve on the owner and occupier of the site a notice stating the steps which they propose to take and giving particulars of the following provisions of this subsection; and a person on whom the notice is served and any other person having an interest in the land may within twenty-eight days from the service of the notice—

  1. (a) serve a counter-notice on the local authority stating that he intends to take those steps himself; or
  2. (b) appeal to a magistrates' court on the ground that the local authority were not justified in concluding that action should be taken under this section, or that the steps proposed to be taken are unreasonable.

(3) If a counter-notice is served under the last foregoing subsection, the local authority shall take no further action in the matter under this section unless the person who served the counter-notice either—

  1. (a) fails within what seems to the local authority a reasonable time to begin to take the steps stated in the notice, or
  2. (b) having begun to take those steps fails to make such progress towards their completion as seems to the local authority reasonable.

(4) If an appeal is brought under subsection (2) of this section, the local authority shall take no further action in the matter under this section until the appeal is finally determined or withdrawn; and on the hearing of the appeal the court may direct the local authority to take no further action or may permit the local authority to take such steps as the court may direct or may dismiss the appeal.

(5) In this section 'rubbish' means rubble, waste paper, crockery and metal, and any other kind of refuse (including organic matter), but does not include any material accumulated for, or in the course of, any business.")


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in Amendment No. 6. This is a new clause and it will give local authorities power to take steps at their own expense to remove from a vacant site in a built-up area any accumula- tion of rubbish they consider to be seriously detrimental to the amenities of the neighbourhood. Before doing so, they must give the owner and occupier notice of their intentions. The owner or other person concerned may, if he prefers to do so, clear the rubbish himself, or he may appeal to a magistrates' court if he objects to what the local authority propose to do. The clause will be supplementary to, and not in substitution for, the powers contained in Clause 27 (2) of the Bill to deal with rubbish resulting from the collapse or demolition of a building.

It will be remembered that during the proceedings in Committee in this House the noble Lord, Lord Burden, raised the question of ensuring that once the site of a demolished building had been cleared it should be kept clear and not allowed to deteriorate into a dumping ground for rubbish. He was good enough to accept my assurance that there were powers in Section 33 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, which could be brought to bear upon that problem. While that is perfectly true, the exercise of those powers involves a fairly elaborate process of serving a notice upon the owner, and then taking enforcement proceedings if he does not comply with it. Moreover, it is often the case that the owner is not to blame at all for the fact that his land is being turned into a rubbish dump.

It has been urged upon the Government that it would be useful for local authorities to have a power to go in and clear up a site themselves with the minimum of bother and delay, even if they have to do it at their own expense. It will not normally be expensive, and the important thing is to get the job done. This could not very well be done by extending Clause 27 of the Bill, which follows Model Clause 56 which is concerned with dilapidated buildings and the immediate consequences of their demolition. There are, however, some local Act precedents for a tidying-up power of the kind I have referred to, although it does not follow them precisely in every respect. After considering further the argument advanced here and in another place, the Government thought it right to bring forward a new clause based on these precedents. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Burden, who unfortunately is not here, will agree that it will be of some assistance in dealing with the problem he had in mind. The Government feel it would be a useful addition to the powers which local authorities already possess to deal with this sort of problem, and hope that the House will feel able to accept it.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Brecon.)


My Lords, would the noble Lord be good enough to say whether in subsection (5) the word "metal" would include disused motor vehicles?


My Lords, no, because a disused motor vehicle may have a certain value attached to it. This is really to remove rubbish that normally gathers on these sites. It does not, in effect, deal with disused cars and things like that, but with small quantities of rubbish put on to open spaces, which look very untidy. The council can remove them with the minimum of trouble. It is not intended to deal with the bigger problems that arise, which can be dealt with under the Town and Country Planning Act.

On Question, Motion agreed to.